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  • When The Gig Gets Canceled…

    When The Gig Gets Canceled…

    Let’s face it, we usually don’t enjoy picking up the phone and finding out that our gig is canceled. Hearing the news via email or text doesn’t make it any better, especially if it’s short notice. On one hand, the middle-schooler in us delights in the fact that we can stay home in our PJ’s,... »

  • Asking For (and Getting) Feedback

    Asking For (and Getting) Feedback

    Q: As bass players, we often find ourselves in situations where we do a job for others, be it taking the bass chair in a singer’s project, subbing in a band, teaching, giving workshops, etc. I often find it difficult to get appropriate feedback for my job. I like it when people are happy with... »

  • Forked Fingering: A Guide to Comfortable Double Stops for Bassists

    Forked Fingering: A Guide to Comfortable Double Stops for Bassists

    Playing fourths across strings on the upright bass can be fraught with problems, especially when we are playing double stops. Sometimes it is appropriate to “bar” the notes using the same finger like this: However, this can create a clamping of the hand and needless tension, which in turn limits our facility and ability to... »

  • Custom Shop: BNA Audio

    Custom Shop: BNA Audio

    Great things often come out of solutions to problems. For example, bassist Mark Robertson noticed that amplifying an upright bass to really loud levels was an issue that got overlooked by most manufacturers. He eventually discussed it with friend and electronics guru Justin Herlocker, and BNA Audio was born. The team got into building hi-fi... »

  • Playing in One Position: A Workout Guide for Bass Players

    Playing in One Position: A Workout Guide for Bass Players

    Q: Do you have any exercises that might help with playing in one position on the fretboard? I have a hard time getting away from reorienting myself from root to root. A: I would suggest starting with exercises you’re already familiar with, and adapt them to a single position. I frequently have my students do... »

  • Listening Back: Get a New Perspective on Your Playing

    Listening Back: Get a New Perspective on Your Playing

    A few days ago, I happened to be “shuffling” through my music library and stumbled upon a long-forgotten EP that I played on in high school, just a few years into picking up the bass. I took a short break from my day and decided to listen with a hint of skepticism, a dash of... »

  • Playing Fast (and Cleanly): A Discussion for Bass Players

    Playing Fast (and Cleanly): A Discussion for Bass Players

    Q: When I hear you playing I think how amazing your technique is and the way you apply it to whatever you want to say through your bass. In the past I didn’t mind about the sound of the notes I was getting. I tried to play fast and didn’t really see or hear what... »

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  • Enclosure Tone Exercises for Bassists

    Enclosure Tone Exercises for Bassists

    One way to give more interest to your improvisations is to add enclosure tones to otherwise simple note choices. Enclosure tones are two tones which “enclose” (i.e. one higher, one lower) another note. Generally, but not always, the note which gets “enclosed” is a chord tone. For example, if we begin with the root of... »

  • Learning Theory: Recommendations for Resources and Steps to Making it Happen

    Learning Theory: Recommendations for Resources and Steps to Making it Happen

    Q: What would you recommend as great resources for learning theory? I’m not someone who lacks in imagination or creative drive or even feel. I’m more of a groove player, and I’ve never stopped to get any formal grounding with modes, harmonizations, relationships of scales and arpeggios and putting that together for a given tonality.... »

  • Play Other Instruments! Such as… Any and All of Them

    Play Other Instruments! Such as… Any and All of Them

    Welcome to the final part of the “Play Other Instruments” series. In the last few columns, we took a look at playing piano, guitar, and drums, and I got to describe some of the benefits of noodling around on each of those. Then, I took a step back and decided it was a bit unfair... »